Quinoa and Veggie Stuffed Peppers with Spicy Black Beans

Stuffed bell peppers are one of my favorite things to make (I’ve blogged about them before here). Last night I made these with quinoa and a whole bunch of veggies. They were delicious and they were pretty filling because of the protein in the quinoa!

What you’ll need:

  • 2 large bell peppers
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa (I used a quinoa and brown rice mix)
  • handful of fresh spinach
  • 1/2 of a red onion, chopped
  • a handful of mushrooms, chopped (any kind will work, I used white)
  • 1 tbsp. sun-dried tomatoes in oil, chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 c dry white wine
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • I added a little cayenne pepper for some spice but you can leave that out

What you’ll do:

Chop the top off the bell peppers and clean out the seeds. Hold on to the top so you can put it back on for baking. Saute the onions and green bell peppers in a little olive oil until tender. Then add mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes. After a few minutes, add the wine and spinach. Mix in the quinoa and cook until heated through. Add the mixture to the bell peppers until they are full, put the caps back on and bake for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

The black beans are super easy and super yummy. All you need is a can of black beans (I use organic), 1/2 cup of your favorite salsa or pico de gallo (I used a fresh pico from the store that was extra spicy) and a little salt and pepper! You heat those ingredients together and then top with a little bit of your favorite shredded cheese. I made these for a little extra protein on the side of our veggie bell peppers since we weren’t having any meat. Enjoy!

An Artichoke a Day

Last night my husband and I made a healthy, delicious meal of fresh lemon and dill salmon and steamed artichokes. Artichokes have been my favorite vegetable since I was a kid and I don’t think I will ever get sick of them. We even grew them ourselves last year!

When I was little I would refuse to eat the heart of the artichoke. I remember my mom saying, “Why don’t you eat the heart? It’s the best part!”  My response would usually be something like “Eww, gross!” It took years until I finally told my parents that I wasn’t eating the best part of the artichoke because I thought it was a real heart. I was little and didn’t understand the difference between a real heart and the idea that something could be called a heart because it was at the “heart” of the vegetable.  When I finally learned the difference I was amazed by what I had been missing. The heart really is the best part! I guess mom’s always know best!

The problem with eating an artichoke a day is that most artichoke dipping sauces are loaded with fat and extra calories. Most people eat them with mayonnaise, or garlic butter, which clearly are not the healthiest choices. When my mom used to make them, we would dip them in Italian dressing mixed with Parmesan cheese. I know, it sounds weird, but it was really tasty and much healthier. Randomly one day I added cottage cheese to that mixture and ate my artichokes dipped in cottage cheese and Italian dressing for years after that. Of course I’ve had the mayo and the garlic butter as well, but now I am always trying to come up new healthy versions that still tastes delicious. This one is my favorite so far:

Lemon and Dill Yogurt Aioli 

  • 1/2 cup non-fat greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • pinch salt

Mix all ingredients together and chill until ready to serve! Double recipe as needed for more artichokes (amounts don’t need to be exact. Add ingredients to taste)

Baked Lemon and Dill Salmon

  • 2 salmon filets
  • 2 tbsp room temp butter
  • 1 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
  • Juice of half a lemon

Mix together butter, lemon and dill. Spread over top of salmon filets in a baking dish lined with foil. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for about 20-25 minutes (depending on size of salmon). Then broil for 5 minutes to crisp the top of the salmon. Squeeze lemon on top before serving and garnish with fresh dill. Enjoy!

No-Bake Oat and Nut Butter Bites

I’ve been looking for a quick snack to eat before work or the gym in the mornings and I thought these would be perfect. I found a few recipes online, combined them and added a few ingredients to make my own. They turned out to be great! And they were super easy to make.

What you’ll need:

  • 1/2 cup almond butter (any nut butter will work)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp flax seeds
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • I also added about an 1/8 cup of an organic fruit and nut granola I needed to use up in the cupboard. You can really add whatever seeds, dried fruit or nuts you’d like to this recipe and I’m sure it would turn out just as yummy!

Combine all the wet ingredients until smooth and then add in the dry ingredients. Mix everything together and place in the fridge for about 20 minutes. Take out of the fridge, form into balls and place back in the fridge until you are ready to eat them. Enjoy!

Broiled Grapefruit with Brown Sugar

I recently was given some delicious grapefruit straight from my co-worker’s backyard and I have been enjoying them for breakfast for the last week. Another friend at work suggested this delicious idea of broiling the grapefruit with a little brown sugar. After I made these I googled the recipe to see how other people made them and I found so many different ways! Some use ginger and brown sugar, some use butter and brown sugar…I think next time I’ll add butter. Everything tastes better with butter, right? But this time I just did it plain and simple. Fruit, brown sugar, and fire. Mmmmm. They turned out delish. A great low-calorie winter dessert that I will definitely be making again soon.

Ingredients:


Brown sugar (about 1-2 tbsp per grapefruit half)

2 grapefruits (one for me, one for my hubby)

That’s it!

What to do:

Cut the grapefruits in half and cut out the seeds. Sprinkle brown sugar on the top of each half and broil for 7-10 minutes until top is golden brown and bubbly. I like to cut through the wedges to make them easier to eat, but you can eat them however you usually prefer to eat grapefruits.

Enjoy!

Chocolate Bran Muffins

Years ago when I was on weight watchers, I used to make these muffins all the time. They are extremely fast and easy and they have very few ingredients. They end up being low in calories and high in fiber and taste just like a chocolate brownie. J They are best heated up with a little whip cream on top and this time I added a little shredded coconut to the top to make them prettier.

  •  One box low-fat brownie mix (I used Betty Crocker)
  • 3 cups bran cereal (I used an organic bran cereal)
  • 2 ½ cups warm water
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Coconut (optional)

First you soak the bran in the water for a few minutes. Then add the brownie mix and baking soda and mix. The batter will be very thick.

Bake in cupcake tins for about 20-25 minutes at 350. See how easy!

Disclaimer- I wouldn’t recommend eating these muffins all the time as a part of a healthy diet. They are tasty, and full of fiber but the brownie mix is of course full of sugar and other unhealthy ingredients. Another option would be to use the No Pudge brownie mix from Trader Joes. No pudge is made with what I like to call “real ingredients” (I used Betty Crocker because I don’t live near a Trader Joes, but I would definitely prefer the healthier route). But, as a once-in-a-while treat, these are great! I froze half of the batch to thaw out another time. That way I don’t have to eat them every day in a row for a month before they go bad.

Ground Turkey and White Bean Soup

This is another warm, hearty soup I made last week to take to work for lunch. I found the recipe online a while ago and made a few small changes to make it my own. It was another super easy, super fast recipe that turned out delicious. There are very few ingredients and you can cook everything in one big pot.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 lb lean ground turkey
  • 2 cans white beans, drained and rinsed (I used Northern but others will work just fine)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 16oz jar green salsa
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp. cumin
  • 1 small can green chilies
  • cilantro for garnish

Instructions:

Saute the onions and garlic in olive oil in a large soup pot until tender. Add ground turkey and cook until brown. Add the canned beans, chicken broth, salsa, green chilies and cumin and bring to a boil. Turn down and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Serve and garnish with fresh cilantro (sour cream tastes great on top as well). Enjoy!

My Favorite Green Smoothies

I have been drinking green smoothie’s for a while now, but thanks to fellow blogger Homemade Adventure I recently found one I like more than any of the others I’ve made. It is a simple recipe with not many ingredients, but it’s soooo yummy.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup almond milk (I switch off from Rice, Almond, and Coconut Milk)
  • 1 ripe banana, preferably peeled + frozen
  • 2 handfuls organic spinach
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds OR 1 tbsp ground flax
  • 1 tbsp nut butter, optional
  • 1-3 ice cubes
  • protein powder of choice, optional (I didn’t use the protein powder because I figured the Barney Butter I used had enough protein for breakfast)

A few days after trying this smoothie for the first time, I decided to mix it up and add a few more ingredients. I added blueberries (which for some strange reason I actually HATE the taste of, but the rest of the ingredients cover up the blueberry taste), some Kale for a little extra green nutrients, and I used half water, half vanilla rice milk to lower the calorie content. This made for a much darker smoothie that was delicious and super healthy!

Glazed Pear Muffins

I just found this recipe for glazed pear muffins on the Weight Watchers website and had to share. I really like Weight Watcher recipes because they are usually twists on traditional recipes with fewer calories and less fat. Win-win! For this recipe I substituted the sour cream with dairy free sour cream, and the milk with coconut milk because it was what I had in the fridge and I think they turned out great. I plan on bringing these to work for an afternoon snack before going to my half marathon trainings. I think they’d make a great brunch or breakfast too because they have just the right amount of sweetness from the pears and the ginger vanilla glaze, but they aren’t overly sweet. Enjoy!

Black Bean and Green Chili Soup

It has been so cold here this week that I have been wanting to make some warm soups to take to work for lunch. Salad just doesn’t cut it in this cold weather! And when I say “cold,” I mean California-cold, which would be laughable to most people who don’t live in the Golden state, but I’ve lived here most of my life and am therefore a complete baby when it comes to harsh weather. So I’m sticking with my story, and saying it is “cold” in Northern California right now.

I wanted to make an easy soup with few ingredients that would be filling enough to have as an entire meal. So this is what I came up with and it was delicious! It may not look very pretty, but trust me, it tastes pretty.

What you need-

– 1 large onion, chopped

– 3 garlic cloves, chopped

– 2 tbsp olive oil

– 2 tbsp. cumin

– salt and pepper to taste

– 3 large tomatoes, chopped (canned tomatoes would work too)

– 2 cans of black beans, drained

– 1 4-6oz can green chilies

– 3 cups of chicken or vegetable stock

– Cilantro and sour cream for garnish

This soup is so easy. Just saute the onions and garlic in the olive oil until the onions  start to turn clear. Add cumin and salt and pepper. Then add the broth, tomatoes, black beans and green chilies. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste and garnish with sour cream and fresh cilantro. Enjoy!

The broth is kind of an ugly green color from the chilies but don’t let that trick you. It’s delicious and perfect for a cold day.

Snowflakes and Sprinkles

My favorite holiday tradition is baking and decorating sugar cookies. My mom and I have done this since I was a little girl and now the holidays just don’t feel the same without them. So, on Saturday my mom came over to make cookies and my husband even helped. He’s getting better at decorating than I am!

The snowflakes were my favorite this year, they look so pretty and festive.

These cookies aren’t only pretty, they’re yummy too! My recipe is very simple and I just make a confectioner’s sugar frosting and use a little food coloring to get the light greens, pinks, blues, and purples I want.

Sugar Cookie Recipe:

  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 5 cups all-purpose bleached flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

Mix together butter and sugar until creamy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Slowly mix in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for 2 hours.

Bake cut-out cookies for 6 to 8 minutes at 400 degrees  on a lightly greased cookie sheet (I use Pam).

Frosting- Mix together powdered sugar and milk (soy milk works as well) until you get the consistency you like. I like it thin so I can paint on the frosting and it dries quickly, but you can add more powdered sugar to make it thicker. Add 1-2 teaspoons of vanilla depending on quantity and food coloring to your liking.